#Cybils reads: Oyster War

imageBlood’s Haven, Maryland, post-Civil War. The oyster trade makes for booming business, and watermen all across Chesapeake Bay are keen on cashing in on this lucrative business. Regulations have been drawn with regards to oyster harvests, but oyster pirates, a small but vicious group led by the nefarious Treacher Fink, have not only been harvesting oysters without a license; they’ve also been using destructive oyster dredges that would render the bay barren within a few years.

To curtail the pirates’ activity, the governor and town mayor establish an Oyster Army (with Commander Davidson Bulloch and his motley crew aboard the Layla) to deal with the pirates once and for all.

From the time the Cybils finalists were announced, I was immediately drawn to Ben Towles’ “Oyster War” because of its cover art – it seemed to promise a great maritime adventure, and I must say it did not disappoint. I thoroughly enjoyed this graphic novel.

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Catching up: The Raven Cycle


Maggie Stiefvater
is best known for her Shiver (“Shiver,” “Linger,” “Forever”) trilogy, but I do think her best work is showcased in her succeeding books, the standalone novel “The Scorpio Races” and the ongoing Raven Cycle, with three books out: “The Raven Boys,” “The Dream Thieves,” and “Blue Lily, Lily Blue.”

I loved “The Scorpio Races,” and the Raven Cycle is growing more and more fascinating with each installment, with lots of characters to fall in love with and a strange and beautiful world to explore. The series is an unusual mix of paranormal and fantasy, with a dash of mystery, romance (of course), and all the awkwardness of growing up.

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The Scorpio Races

I can’t really say I’m all that fond of horses, although I’ve read my share of horses when I was younger, like  Black Beauty and The Summer of the Dancing Horse. I also haven’t had a lot of exposure to equines, other than the requisite carriage rides in Vigan or Old Manila, and long-ago pony rides in the highlands. In fact, of late, the closest I’ve gotten to these four-legged creatures is My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, to keep up with my *ahem* brony friends.

I’ve read Maggie Stiefvater‘s werewolf novels Shiver and Linger, and while they did not make a paranormal romance fan out of me, I thought they were among the better-written books in the genre. But when I first saw her latest novel, I honestly did not know what to make of it. Mainly because of the nondescript brown cover — you all know I judge a book by the cover! — and well, you’ve got to admit there is something off-putting about a story featuring flesh-eating water horses! Nevertheless, I decided to give it a chance.

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I’ve been reading Cornelia Funke for years now, and there’s something about her work that always appeals to me. The Thief Lord is one of my favorite books, and her best work, I think; but I’ve also enjoyed Dragon Rider and Inkheart, although I think the Inkworld trilogy would have been better as one book (and yes, I still haven’t read my copy of Inkdeath).

I’ve been meaning to read Cornelia Funke’s latest book, Reckless since last year, but like I said, I’m pacing myself in tackling the new releases of my favorite authors — most are already on my shelves, still sealed, but I’m planning on getting the lot of them finished throughout the year (in particular: Shades of Grey, Heroes of the Valley, Inkdeath, The Ring of Solomon and The Last Dragonslayer).

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I’ve always been curious about Garth Nix’s Abhorsen Trilogy (Sabriel, Lirael, and Abhorsen) because a friend of mine from college (hello, Tintin!) has been raving about it since we were in school — I remember her sneak-reading it in class, and I remember she even bought the cassette audiobooks and we listened to it in her car!

I’ve had the set sitting in my TBR pile for ages; I’ve always thought it was a bit too high fantasy for my taste. As you might have read in past posts, I balk at fantasy with unpronounceable names, made up languages, and maps; I usually prefer fantasy with some semblance of reality in it. But I listed Garth Nix in my A-Z Challenge purposely so I would be forced to read at least the first book of the trilogy, and I’m so glad I did.

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